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Hitler's Last Gamble: The Battle of the Bulge, December 1944-January 1945 Hardcover – October 20, 1994


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 565 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; 1st edition (October 20, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060166274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060166274
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,460,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Marshaled as if this text were itself a military operations manual, the facts presented here trace 100 units that fought in the Ardennes forest 50 years ago. Dupuy, author of dozens of military books, claims for this the ultimate place for comprehensive research on the campaign, and the bewildering factual phalanx of weaponry specs, tactical deployments, weather reports, and casualty counts compells agreement with the assertion. The U.S. Army was impressed enough to use Dupuy's information in a database. So on December 16, 1944, the German forces began an offensive that achieved complete surprise. Dupuy and his co-writers unfold minute-by-minute the German units' progress, loss of impetus, and repulse. The prodigious amount of detail does yield some revisions--that fighting around St. Vith, rather than Bastogne (famed for the "Nuts!" retort to a German surrender demand), turned the tide in favor of the Americans--and so readers attuned to the anniversary and steeped in militarese might favor this work over the dozen in-print oral histories or pictorial works. Gilbert Taylor

Review

The account of the battle itself is perfectly satisfactory, if a little dry at times. I still prefer Charles B MacDonald's more immersive account, not least because it does not shy away at times from painting a less robust picture of American command during the battle (witness the very different treatment of the commander of the 14th Cavalry in either book). However, where this book really stands out is in the wealth of information about the armies involved in the battle - everything from unit organisations and strengths to type of equipment to combat losses. This book also offers some interesting analyses of certain Bulge 'controversies', such as the relative quality of either side's soldiers, the role of Pieper in the Malmedy massacre and the performance of the opposing commanders. Not sure I fully agree with all of its conclusions, particularly the rather grudging acknowledgement of Montgomery's role (although the latter is rightly castigated for his self-serving pronouncements during the campaign). Also, the praise of Bradley and Hodges is a bit too fulsome for my tastes (in this regard I find Max Hastings to be a more convincing read), but overall this is a worthy addition to a Bulge aficionado's library. --munster8

Research is the strength of this work, not the telling of a major battle. It is difficult for the reader to grasp the overall view of this clash as it is layered over with detail upon detail. From mass movements to small skirmishes, it is told in the driest of writing style. The usual complaint levied against military books, inadequate maps, can not be claimed here. The maps are numerous and like the work itself, detailed. As a reference tool the book is invaluable and for this it merits the rating given. An interesting read it is not but it does belongs on the shelf of those with a serious interest in the Bulge. --George G. Kiefer

An excellent blow-by-blow account of the battle. However, like the real battle, much less interesting toward the end. The book also has an annoying tendency to vary widely in its approach: at one moment it is a real soldiers story, with intimate portrayals of courage; and at another moment a dry, sholarly presentation of military movements. Although this may describe many military books, this book can be particularly annoying in its vacillation. Overall, though, one of the best books on the subject. My rating of "8" is a relative comparison to other Bulge books I have read --A Customer

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By George G. Kiefer on February 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Research is the strength of this work, not the telling of a major battle. It is difficult for the reader to grasp the overall view of this clash as it is layered over with detail upon detail. From mass movements to small skirmishes, it is told in the driest of writing style. The usual complaint levied against military books, inadequate maps, can not be claimed here. The maps are numerous and like the work itself, detailed. As a reference tool the book is invaluable and for this it merits the rating given. An interesting read it is not but it does belongs on the shelf of those with a serious interest in the Bulge.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 1997
Format: Paperback
An excellent blow-by-blow account of the battle. However, like the real battle, much less interesting toward the end. The book also has an annoying tendency to vary widely in its approach: at one moment it is a real soldiers story, with intimate portrayals of courage; and at another moment a dry, sholarly presentation of military movements. Although this may describe many military books, this book can be particularly annoying in its vacillation. Overall, though, one of the best books on the subject. My rating of "8" is a relative comparison to other Bulge books I have read
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schranck on July 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was rated 4 stars not for lack of quality but because the books by Hugh Cole and Charles MacDonald are more comprehensive and are 5 star books. There are 22 chapters including the Epilogue and an equal number of quality black and white maps. The book begins with the conditions in the Ardennes couple months before the assault. It describes Hitler's decision for the assault as well for the reasons the Allies became lax and over confident about a quick end of the war. The next couple chapters cover German dispositions and preparations and the Allied deployments. The next chapter before the assault coverage begins is whether the German Offensive could have been foreseen. His answer is Yes. The battle coverage begins with chapters on Krinkelter Wald, Schnee Eifel, Skyline Drive, Sauer River, St Vith, Bastogne and it continues to the end of the operation at end of Jan 1945. The tactical coverage is straight forward and, I thought, interesting for it was written by a veteran. For every engagement there is a good map to help you follow the action.
The main book ends on page 370 but there is another 295 pages of additional info including an extensive index which will help you find what you need. The Epilogue asks 16 questions about the campaign and author replies to each question. There are also eight appendices that adds further background info and statistics to the main story. There are also good photos of the battlefields and of the soldiers and commanders. This is a quality rendition of an important American campaign and is worth your consideration.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mikey Liked It on December 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Highly detailed! It reads more like a report. It is not (much like) a novel.

This book is the best one-volume account of the Ardennes offensive campaign I am aware of. This statement must be qualified. I am a war-gamer and I am interested in concise orders of battle and detailed accounts of actions. There are multiple appendixes (almost 1/4 of the text!) that cover everything from general divisional Tables of Organization and Equipment (TO&E), organization and (generalized) fighting doctrinal treatments, to regiment/brigade specialist-company level OB's for December 16 and December 24, and formation specific casualty/materiel loss lists.
Each chapter is a time/space module, typically 3 to 4 days of action for each of the 3 major axes (and several subdivisions of each) of the battle (6SS PZ Army/North Shoulder, Bastogne/Central, 5 PZ Army/South Shoulder). Each of the many sector battles is treated very well (St. Vith, Celles, Bastogne, etc.) Because of this, it is difficult to read cover-to-cover. While reading you must constantly flip back and forth between maps (for locations), the text, and the appendixes (for unit information, organization).

Each time a unit of task force, division, corp or army echelon is introduced, there is a brief bio for the commanding officer. My preference would have been for these to be in another appendix because they were a couple of paragraphs each and tended to disrupt the flow of the narrative.

Overall this is a very, very high quality product as other reviewers have stated, but it will not appeal to casual readers, or anyone looking for a 'novelistic' treatment of the campaign. You might get lost if you struggle with military terminology. Be prepared to read it very slowly and be comfortable with looking up cross refs and footnotes. There is a sheer ton of information contained within.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
A useful discussion of the Battle of the Bulge, but not the final word. Very detailed operational history, and unlike other reviewers I found it quite easy to read as operational histories go. Occasional brief first-person comments but definitely not an "I was there" account, which is fine by me. If you want first-person or memoir-style stories, this book isn't for you.

1) Dupuy discusses the operational history primarily at the btn/regiment/div/etc. level, engagement by engagement. But there's little attention to the operational big picture and the flow of action from one engagement to the next. You don't get much a feel for the overall development of the "Ardennes campaign" as he prefers to call it.

2) I see no value in including detailed mini-biographies of virtually every officer at every level. I have never understood why this is so often a feature of operational histories and it adds nothing here except for extra pages filled with completely extraneous details that derail the main text.

3) Summary tables of key data - casualties, armor, etc. - placed where they naturally fit in the text would be helpful rather than sprinkling factoids without context throughout the narrative. He often characterizes a few hundred to a few thousand casualties (many of which were injuries, not deaths) as "huge". That description cries out for context in a war where Soviet and Japanese deaths were routinely measured in the thousands in many engagements.

4) The epilogue is facile, to say the least. A good editor would've ditched it altogether. He purports to answer the "sixteen most important questions" ranging from questions of generalship to comparisons of the relative capabilities of the Landser and the U.S. infantryman, a fairly sweeping remit.
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